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11 Ways to Transition Your Winter Wardrobe to Spring

It can be tough to plan outfits in early spring, before the temperatures heat up. These winter-to-spring transition clothes tips will get you through.

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Slowly segue into color

If you’re most comfortable in winter’s blacks and grays, no need to jump right in to bright spring colors. Start by adding a bright accessory in a color that you love, then add a few more pieces in that same color as it gets deeper into spring, says Dina Scherer, wardrobe stylist and owner of Modnitsa Styling. “Working with a monochromatic scheme can add elegance without the danger of not mixing the right colors together,” she says. “It allows you to play with color but still wear neutrals.” Once you get used to a more colorful look, start playing around with complementary combinations, like brown and blue, or red and green to make a bigger statement, she says. Find out what your outfit color says about you.

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Try a bright bottom

Ready to take the plunge into color? Instead of starting with a bright top, pull on a colored pant or skirt, suggests Lauren Rothman, fashion stylist and author of Style Bible: What to Wear to Work. “Whether it’s ballet pink or fuchsia, doing that color on the bottom is edgier—a little more unexpected,” she says. Pair it with black boots and tights while you transition into spring. Don’t miss these surprising ways clothes can change your mood.

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iStock/Petar Chernaev

Dig out your white jeans

No need to hide your white pants away until Memorial Day—you can pull them out as soon as the weather starts warming up. Keep them season-appropriate during chillier transition months by pairing them with a black knit sweater instead of your usual summer brights, says Rothman. “That’s a fresh, crisp look,” she says. Learn how to avoid common jeans mistakes.

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Plan to peel

Outfit-planning can be tricky in the spring, when the temperature might be chilly in the morning but warm up by lunchtime. On days like that, layering is your best friend. Pull a blazer or blanket scarf over your outfit, paying attention to how the outfit looks without that warmer piece. “You want your look to be able to look good if you take off a layer,” says Rothman. “In winter you don’t have to worry about that—you’re not expecting to have to remove a layer. In spring it’s something you have to be aware of.”

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Lighten your textures

Sticking with lighter-weight fabrics will make layering easier as the weather warms up. “Instead of having a whole lot of cashmere sweaters, getting cotton ones instead to wear over a T-shirt or under a jacket will allow you to have some versatility,” says Scherer. “As spring gets closer, you can peel off those layers.”

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Slowly drop the layers

As the temperatures rise, you can ditch those transition layers. Sticking with fewer pieces will give your winter clothes a longer shelf life. Wear a light jacket instead of a heavy coat, or pair a dress with flats instead of tights and boots. “It takes that same piece and transitions it through the seasons,” says Scherer. These classic jackets will carry you from winter to spring.

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Give your sweaters some love

By the end of the season, you might notice some pilling under the arms or on the sides of your favorite winter sweaters. Remove those blemishes with a sweater stone, or take to a dry cleaner to give winter pieces new life for spring, says Rothman. “You want to make sure stuff continues to look fresh,” she says.

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Go feet-first

“Shoes are really what can change a lot of your look,” says Rothman. You’ll want to save peep-toe shoes for late spring, when the weather really warms up, she says. In the meantime, though, an ankle strap or slingback shoe transitions well in March and April. Find out how to make your shoes look good as new all year.

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Add a scarf

Accessories can completely change your look, taking a drab winter outfit to a cheery spring ensemble. If your winter clothes are all dark or neutral, add a pop of color with a scarf. “Even with a dark coat, a bright scarf next to the face transforms the look and makes it look more springy,” says Scherer. Check out these other accessorizing tips.

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Start on top

“I like to keep the warmer winter fabrics in the bottom,” says Scherer. “It transitions the outfit a little better due to the idea of layering.” She recommends pairing wool cropped pants or heavier jeans with a tank top and light sweater. You’ll keep warm in cool temperatures without looking like you’re stuck in January.

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Ease yourself into spring

When you start moving clothes in and out of storage for the new season, keep some winter pieces on hand. Stow your heaviest pieces away until next winter, but keep a mix of cold- and warm-weather pieces handy instead of filling your closet with spring outfits. “Pull out the heavy stuff, but don’t pull all your spring stuff to the forefront,” says Rothman. “Tease yourself.”

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.